WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ZETSUEN NO TEMPEST
Takigawa Yoshino is a pretty cool customer. Up to this point in Tempest, he has managed to successfully hide that he was Fuwa Aika’s boyfriend, despite the facts that (1) she was murdered and also (2) his best freind, her step-brother, Mahiro, was in love with Aika and did not know Yoshino and she were together (Mahiro refused to let Aika date). Third parties with an interest in the matter of Aika’s death do not deduce that she and Yoshino were an item. This is because Yoshino has succeeded in shutting down his emotions to such a degree that he is able to outwardly live his lie in a nearly flawless manner.
However, concealing his status as Aika’s beau is not the biggest deception Yoshino is able to pull off.
Suggested Soundtrack for Reading – Corinne Bailey Rae “I Won’t Let You Lie to Yourself”
The greatest lie Yoshino ever told was not hiding his relationship with Aika from Mahiro or Hakaze. No, the greatest lie was the one he told to his own soul. He convinced himself that grieving his lost love would not change anything in the world, and this, my friends, is a damned lie. Of course grieving, and ultimately accepting, loss changes the world. It changes everything about it because it changes you.
Let’s back up for a second so that I can make some big picture comments. A bit of history: From the seventeenth century up through sometime in the twentieth, there was a live philosophical dispute between two broad schools of metaphysical thought: realism and idealism. The fight was over the nature of reality, or just what the stuff of the world actually is, at bottom. I use blanket, reductive terms to describe the participating groups in the dispute when there are actually many different varieties of each. For instance, some idealists believe that the nature of the reality is thought or spirit (and minds, I guess?). Despite how things appear, there is no such thing as matter. Others are not so definitive in their proclamations. These folks argue that we can’t know anything about reality beyond the categories in which we experience it as human beings, which we construct ourselves mind you. Therefore, the only world/reality we can legitimately talk about is the one we construct, rather than the one that “actually is” independent of our minds.
So, how does this digression relate to Tempest? It is relevant to my claim directed at Yoshino: grief and acceptance of loss changes you, therefore it changes the world. Though I do have sympathy with the position at times, I want to be clear that I am not a metaphysical idealist. There are things such as tables and chairs that exist regardless of whether anyone is thinking about them. My intent is not to directly or indirectly support a global metaphysical idealism; however, in cases in which we experience such devastating loss, I think the latter type of idealism I discussed above seems reflective of what is going on. Having endured such a loss, I am compelled by how such idealism accounts for the phenomena.
In the eighteenth episode of Tempest, Hakaze finally gets Yoshino to open up about his grief. He says he cannot be happy in a world without Aika. He doesn’t know how to live in such a world. That’s a pretty despairing statement. Everything about reality seems wrong to Yoshino. “The world is out of joint.” Though he does suppress it, deep down Yoshino feels like any human being does after loss but before (and even perhaps during) the grieving process. Time should stop. Everyone should simultaneously focus on him and leave him alone. Possibilities are a thing of the past. He cannot move on. Because he won’t allow himself to grieve, Yoshino is stuck in a perpetual loop of despair, cool though he remains on the outside.
The reason Yoshino appears so unaffected and has not, before now, revealed these feelings to anyone is that he has convinced himself that feeling them and acting upon them will change nothing. Well, that course of action certainly won’t bring Aika back to life, but to say that it will change nothing is incorrect. He lies to himself, and this is the greatest, most effective lie he has ever told. The process of grief, culminating in acceptance, changes so very many important things about you and the way you experience the world. The world comes to seem…not necessarily more correct, but less nonsensical. Where you once felt only despair, you catch yourself feeling some semblance of hope. You feel the crushing weight of stopped time lift, and possibilities open up to you. Living becomes bearable, then easier, and finally good. You start to feel that you can be happy again. The world transforms. This process is long and quite painful, but it cannot end unless it begins.
You might wonder how exactly I’m not advocating a form of idealism here, since I seem to be making the way the world is to be dependent on a person’s thought. Perhaps this accusation has some merit, though I don’t think this dependance is universal. I do think that the experience of grief is a special case, and our existential struggle with it is too significant to be reduced in any way. And, who’s to say that a realist cannot also believe that human agents are more than passive experiencers but creatively supplement reality in their interactions with it?
At any rate, I maintain that in the move from grief to acceptance, the way you experience the world undergoes an alteration so drastic as to be indistinguishable from such alteration “out there” in the world. If there is no difference between the fresh way Yoshino experiences the world post-acceptance and the way he might experience the world if it changed independently of his experience, then we might as well say the world has changed! It has changed for him and what other experience of the world can Yoshino know (what can he YOSHI-KNOW, RIGHT)?
Hakaze helps Yoshino begin the grieving process, and, over time, things do change for him. His relationships with others blossom, and his care for them deepens. He is able to move on with his life and take steps forward that he would not have been able to take otherwise. Ultimately, Yoshino is in a position to do these things because he stops believing the lie that his grief was meaningless.